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Now 'Case-For-Vote' Deals In Rajya Sabha Polls
The BJP-led Raghubar Das dispensation in Jharkhand has been accused of having played unfairly to ensure the victory of its second candidate Mahesh Poddar and that too, at the cost of the subversion of democracy
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History has a bad habit of repeating itself -- though with a difference. The Rajya Sabha elections concluded in Jharkhand on June 11 amidst a vulgar display of abuse of power – once again. Indeed, unlike on earlier occasions that marred the elections with ‘cash-for-vote’ deals, it was now ‘case-for-vote’ deals instead.
In the garb of court cases against legislators belonging to the opposition parties in Jharkhand, political parties in power in the State and at the Centre are believed to have conspired to strike a deal for ‘case for votes’. Irrespective of political parties they belong to, tainted MLAs from the opposition-combine were forced to comply with the dictates of the ruling BJP while casting their votes for the two seats of the Rajya Sabha in the State on June 11, presumably in lieu of the offer to get respite in their court cases. Arrest warrants were issued against the two Congress MLAs, Nirmala Devi and Devendra Singh alias Bittu Singh and JMM MLA, Chamra Linda on the eve of the RS polls.
As per the numerical strength in the State Assembly, the ruling BJP and JMM were all set to bag each of the two seats. While the BJP and its lone ally AJSU had 47 votes, the JMM with the support of Congress and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha claimed to have the required number of 28.
As long as the BJP declared Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi its candidate and the JMM had made the youngest son of party supremo Sibu Soren, Vasant Soren, its official candidate for the second seat, the electioneering was expected to be held in a fair atmosphere. But the nomination of Mahesh Poddar by the BJP for the second seat was poised to vitiate the polls.
The BJP-led Raghubar Das dispensation in the State has now been accused of having played unfairly to ensure the victory of its second candidate Mahesh Poddar and that too, at the cost of the subversion of democracy. Opposition parties are likely to move the law courts against the highhandedness of the ruling BJP in the State. Former Chief Minister and JMM leader, Hemant Soren condemned the State Government’s role and said that his party would move the court against the unfair means used by the ruling BJP to win the seat. He also demanded a judicial probe into the matter.
In fact, in a strategic move, the Government had aimed to prevent MLAs belonging to the opposition parties from casting their votes that virtually amounted to infringement on their constitutional rights. If three MLAs from the opposition camp were prevented from casting their votes, the common candidate of the opposition-combine, Basant Soren of the JMM was supposed to lag behind the required votes and Poddar – who had 19 surplus votes of the BJP-AJSU-combine and three from the independent MLAs –could reach the magic number with the support of the votes of second preference.
Consequently, the opposition moved the Supreme Court against the autocratic role of the State Government and prayed to allow the MLAs, who were faced with the threat of possible arrests, to cast their votes. Acting upon the petition in detail, the apex court allowed the three MLAs to cast their votes. However, barring Nirmala Devi, who was accompanied by former Chief Minister and JMM leader Hemant Soren to the State Assembly, the other two MLAs did not turn up for the voting. As such, the total number of votes to be cast in favour of Basant Soren was calculated as 28: the required number to win the second seat.
Incidentally, two MLAs from the opposition camp did cross voting that brought down the number of votes to 26 in favour of Soren. The BJP won both the seats of Union Minister, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi of the BJP and the party’s second candidate Mahesh Poddar, with the transfer of two surplus votes cast to Naqvi defeating Basant Soren of JMM.
Ironically, the BJP – that was opposed to participation of tainted MLAs of the opposition in the elections, albeit with an ulterior motive and drafted the State police to obtain arrest warrant in haste against them – could not afford to refrain itself from seeking the support from other tainted MLAs to increase its number. The three independent tainted MLAs that were roped in by the BJP included Gita Koda, wife of former Chief Minister and kingpin of the infamous multi-crore Koda scam, Madhu Koda, former minister Bhanu Pratap Sahi who is serving jail term in connection with the multi-crore health scam in the State and Enos Ekka, another accused of a multi-crore scam in the State and in jail.
To top it all, in spite of the fact that the BJP won the second seat too without having a substantial number of votes on its own, it stood condemned not only in the eyes of people in general for its unscrupulous role but also earned the implicit displeasure of the Supreme Court too while endorsing the action of the State police that obtained the arrest warrant against the opposition MLAs ostensibly at the behest of their political masters in the State. If the party has cut a sorry figure in the wake of its desperate moves to win a second seat, the decision of the apex court has dealt a major blow to its credentials too.